Wednesday 19 September 2012

Modernity and bribery


I got the insight from Ernest Gellner that modern societies (post-Industrial Revolution) attained cohesion and peace mostly by bribery; deals with domestic and international problems by 'buying-off' opposition - using the economic surplus generated by frequent and significant technical breakthroughs. 

This has been possible over the past couple of centuries because of long-term economic growth (per capita), which was possible because of continual increases in productivity, which was possible because of frequent and qualitative technical breakthroughs in production and distribution of essentials, which (I would say) was possible through the large number of Creative Geniuses working in relevant fields.


This system based on bribery and buying-off continues apace - despite that there is now no surplus from growth but rather a decline in the per capita production of relevant goods.

(Obviously a real economics would distinguish between necessary/ useful goods, and the rest.) 

Since there is no surplus, and since there is a lot of buying-off; we have rule based on government theft disguised as borrowing, government theft disguised as egalitarianism, government theft disguised as inflation, and just plain covert theft ('stealth' taxes, as refined in the UK by Gordon Brown).  


Coercion is thus focused on extracting more and more resources from fewer and fewer people to sustain the system of buying-off. This, naturally, satisfies the majority.

This is much easier for governments than abandoning the vast multinational system of influence by subsidy abroad and vote buying at home.

But governments built-on dishonesty and theft nonetheless feel moral, because they eschew the use of violence as a mechanism of social control (of course they use violence, but not directly, and they do not concede they are using it for control - therefore they use if inefficiently and ineffectively). 


It will not last, because it cannot last, and indeed hastens and makes-more-severe the inevitable collapse when there is insufficient resource to sustain the system of bribery.

And this is bad, bad, bad - because it punishes vice to reward evil, and destroys all forms of social cohesion to maintain both the state and the state's enemies (i.e. those which need to be bought-off).

So we are maintaining government, by strengthening the enemies of government (buying them off) by means of the incremental destruction of good behaviour - productive, cohesive, cooperative.  


This is one reason for state/ official/ educational/ media propaganda relentlessly, 24/7, banging-away on their project of demonizing the productive sector of the population which the focus of escalating coercive government theft.

It is easier to steal-from a group if you can persuade yourself that the victims 'deserve it'.

Then you can feel good about being a parasite, a cancer, a sadistic slave driver.


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